Mar 15, 2022 3:26 PM

Nico Escobar scored three goals for Coca-Cola against La Indiana, including the game winner in the USPA Gold Cup® playoffs at International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida. ©David Lominska
Nico Escobar scored three goals for Coca-Cola against La Indiana, including the game winner in the USPA Gold Cup® playoffs at International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida. ©David Lominska

Story courtesy of International Polo Club Palm Beach.

Continuing play in the USPA Gold Cup® playoffs at International Polo Club Palm Beach (IPC), the Monday, March 14, doubleheader began on Field 5, as an 0-2 Coca-Cola (Gillian Johnston, Nico Escobar*, Nico Pieres, Julian de Lusarreta) overcame a four-goal deficit to upset previously undefeated La Indiana (Jeff Hall, Lucas "Luckitas" Criado Jr., Mariano Aguerre, Stewart Armstrong) 11-10.

In the second matchup of the doubleheader, Dutta Corp/Show+ (Timmy Dutta*, Joaquin Avendano, Tomas Garcia del Rio, Ignacio "Inaki" Laprida) controlled the pace of the second doubleheader in a complete team effort against CK Shack (Henry Porter, Martin "Facha" Valent, Santiago Toccalino, Kris Kampsen) to take the 10-7 victory and book their ticket into the quarterfinals.

Conceding one goal on handicap to La Indiana, Coca-Cola’s Escobar quickly erased the deficit to tie the match at 1-all. With each team committing eight fouls, scoring in the first half was largely driven from the penalty line, with Hall and Criado Jr. sharing the shooting duties to account for four La Indiana goals, while Pieres responded with a Penalty 3 to leave Coca-Cola trailing by two.

Receiving a double yellow card, Escobar was relegated to the penalty box late in the third chukker to give La Indiana a one-man advantage for two minutes. Coca-Cola remained steadfast and prevented La Indiana from scoring with their extra man. Escobar galloped back onto the field to facilitate Coca-Cola’s first goal in open play from de Lusarreta. Following a last-minute goal from La Indiana’s top scorer Criado Jr., La Indiana managed to take a 5-3 lead into halftime.

Resuming play with a slim advantage, La Indiana’s Hall burst onto the field to start the second half of play, singlehandedly scoring three goals in the fourth chukker. Still searching for their first win of the tournament, Coca-Cola was unwilling to give in to the pressure and a provided a significant response with a phenomenal run of four unanswered goals, including two off the mallet of Escobar.

Fighting all the way to within one goal entering the final chukker of play, Coca-Cola took advantage of the momentum in their favor. Despite a quick goal from Criado Jr. to account for his fifth on the day, Pieres and Escobar bared down to combine for another three goals, with two back-to-back penalty conversions. Matching each other stride-by-stride in shots with sixteen for Coca-Cola and fifteen for La Indiana, Coca-Coca took the lead in the sixth chukker for the hard-fought 11-10 victory.

Assembling on Field 3 for the second match of the doubleheader, an undefeated Dutta Corp/Show+ got off to a dominant start. Surrendering two penalties to Toccalino and CK Shack in the first chukker, Dutta Corp Show+ produced an eight-goal blitz in the first half to race ahead.

With a complete team effort, each member of Dutta Corp/Show+ added their name to the scoresheet, with Garcia del Rio, Laprida and Dutta each adding two goals. Dominating possession and winning the battle in open play, Dutta Corp/Show+ held CK Shack to just two goals from the field in the first half. Scoring all but two of their eight goals from the field, Dutta Corp/Show+ carried a comfortable 8-2 lead into the break.

Struggling to generate any offense since the opening chukker, Valent finally found the posts on back-to-back goals for CK Shack. Garcia del Rio responded with a safety conversion, but CK Shack’s Kampsen built off Valent’s success from the field to knock in his first of two goals in the second half. With sixteen combined fouls between the two teams and only four conversions, scoring from the field continued to dominate the day, with back-and-forth play accounting for multiple opportunities for both sides.

Dutta Corp/Show+ kept the offensive pressure on a surging CK Shack, as Laprida’s third goal of the match extended their lead to five. With time quickly ticking down in regulation, a final push from Kampsen and Toccalino simply wasn’t enough to pull themselves back into the match, allowing Dutta Corp/Show+ to cruise into the quarterfinals and remain undefeated with a 10-7 win.

*Timmy Dutta is an Active Team USPA Member and Nico Escobar is a Graduating Team USPA Member. Team USPA is a USPA program designed to enhance and grow the sport of polo in the United States by identifying young, talented American players and providing mentored training and playing opportunities leading to a pool of higher rated amateur and pro players and the resultant giveback to the sport of polo.